Along for the ride:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Three steps forward, two steps back

Our lives have been consumed lately, by all things related to moving our business. We were finally on-track with a building that was the right size, price and location. We signed a letter of intent, had verbal agreements through our Agent and theirs and a start date of September 23rd, which would give us a week to vacate the old place by month's end.
The other side didn't buy into the urgency and let days go by with lawyers writing addendums at snail's pace and then those who needed to sign were away for a few days and then felt disinclined to drive a few miles to do paperwork, so FedEx was our intermediary. Frustrations almost boiled over when we were finally given a lease to sign on September 27th. Our agent went off with the lease and our deposit check to finalize the hand over.
Our new landlord, whom we had yet to meet, sent us an email saying it would be convenient for him to drive (the huge 50 miles) on the afternoon of Thursday Sept.29th, to meet us and give us a key. Another two days lost, with no recourse.
The minute we had the key our electrician came in to start preparing for our machines. Ten minutes into his visit, he announced that there was no three-phase power in the building!
Someone, somewhere must know the name of that sinking feeling we all get and recognize when things are going horribly wrong.
We had gone through several hoops regarding previous sites that had turned out to be inadequate or too expensive to adapt. Our agent is a professional who is also involved in commercial construction projects so, when he phoned and said "I have a great building for you, and it has all the power you need", we never doubted him for a minute.
I know that when he received my "Houston, we have a problem!" call, he also experienced that "feeling". He came right over and set about trying to contact our landlords, through their agent. It was still before 9am on our first day of possession of the building and we were already dead in the water.
We had to wait and wonder what our Plan-B would be if this deal was falling through. We were under pressure, already exceeding our move out dates on one side and no firm idea of where to go on the other. In addition, if this were to blow up and go "Legal" we had committed our funds and had no room to maneuver to get another place.
I respect rules of etiquette and know that our agent had to go through the agent on the other side. I gave them until early afternoon and then over-rode my Good-Girl instincts and took it upon myself to call our new landlord directly. I was met by an answering machine and left a message detailing how upset we were and asking for an immediate response.
Hubby and I were frantically trying to talk through our options and alternatives and decided that, in the interest of self-preservation, we had to put a stop payment on our deposit check. At the risk of ruining our relationship with our new landlords from the start, we had to maintain the ability to go somewhere else and live to fight another day.
Late in the afternoon, as I was getting in my car to head home, my cell phone rang with a response to my frantic message. Susie, co-owner of our property and designated property manager, had just received my cry for help and we were able to introduce ourselves and discuss our problem. I asked her to get in touch with our agent herself. I also apologized about the necessity we had felt to stop payment on the check. I said we'd replace it the next day, if we could all agree on a solution. She was very understanding and not upset as I had feared she might be.
Multiple calls went back and forth, one from our agent, happy to be released from his obligation to wait for a call back from his counterpart. He has a genuine concern for our needs with the added incentive of a commission to lose if this falls apart.
The positive side of all this is finding out that our landlords are reasonable people, after all the lawyerly paperwork and keeping their distance, we had our doubts about them. They propose to participate and pay half of any work that's required, financing the rest for us for a nominal increased rent over time. We can wait a week or two to get machines rolling, to allow them to do the work. Our agent is getting bids, pulling permits and supervising the task. Everyone takes a small hit and we all move forward. We are all making a leap of faith that we can get through this. I'm sure it's going to cost more than the  initial estimate. Prove me wrong, please. Not working and not knowing what comes next would cost us more.
Yesterday we loaded up and transported eight truck loads of stone. We started again at first light this morning.


  1. Sounds exhausting but I guess you're now "in for a penny in for a pound" and there is no other recourse but to push on. Fingers crossed it all gets resolves not only soon but in a way that doesn't leave you anymore out of pocket than you want to be.

  2. Sounds like you managed to sort it all out, I hope so!!

  3. Steve, can't wait to be on the other side of this.

    Di, there are bound to be other glitches but this one was potentially a killer. Whew!

  4. I spent 20 years working in Florida for the Sumter County Building Department, as a Permit Tech, the last 12 in a huge retirement community called "The Villages" I mention this so I can offer whatever small help I can to you if you need any.

    Though we were not allowed to recommend people (which is as it should be) we could give names of contractors who did business in whatever trade was required. Often these people were familiar with the requirements and the process went much smoother, quicker and in the long run was less costly, since the contractor knew what was expected by the Building Official and Plans Examiner. Just a suggestion that I hope can help you in a small way.

    I am a fan of your blog and enjoy visiting here.

  5. I should have added my email address if I can be of any help. It is gotta take the dog out, but feel free to message me I would be happy to help.

  6. Phew I'm worn out just reading, hope the rest goes more smoothly!

  7. Karen, that's very kind of you to offer. I'm in the clear so far. It's not my problem to do the permits and bidding leg-work. My agent has one foot in a commercial construction company. He's on point for now.

  8. Trudi, If wishes were horses, etc. I had my cash cleaned out of my wallet in my locked car yesterday and we got tagged by graffiti at the old place overnight. I feel as though the smell of blood is in the water and the sharks are moving in. Chum, anyone?

  9. Hi ER, typed a comment, only to have it disappear, so if two finally turn up, that'll be why... wow, talk about stress ! Hope it all works out finally without too much heartburn...

    And eight truckloads of stone ? I'm guessing they weren't in one of those little Citroen trucks we talked about a while back either...

  10. Oh, no. And I thought you were all set. Good thing competent people seem to be handling things. Here's hoping things work out quickly so you can settle in soon.

    Bummer about the cash in the car. That's upsetting. *Sigh*

  11. The mere fact that you can type a blog post, under the circumstances, speaks volumes.

    I, on the other hand, would be holed up with a bottle of Klonapin. I might not actually take it but I would definitely have it clutched in my hot little hand––so much more useful than an AK-47, if something absolutely must be pried from my cold, dead hand one day.

    2 steps forward, 1 step back, indeed. The only thing that mildly surprises me is that you would believe anyone, about anything, at this stage in your evolution as a businesswoman in NoCal.

    Are you sure that your husband didn't swipe your cash? Just asking...

  12. This is stuff my nightmares are usually made from, so I can totally understand the stress you must be feeling. Hope all goes well for you from now on ;-)

  13. You have been going through so much. I hope for your sake that the work is done quickly to bring the new place up to the condition you need to run your business.

  14. Owen, Big Trucks, that's the name of the game. We measured yesterday and our biggest table saw won't fit under the freeway overpass, we're going to have to go the long way around. In addition it sticks out four feet on each side. "The Boys" (my hubby and the truck driver) are in their element. Sometimes I have to leave as some of the maneuvers are too scary for me.

  15. Jean, we'll get through this. We always do! I feel as though "The Handbag of Glory" was violated, but I'll forget about it in a day or too.

  16. Ms. Pliers, Sorry if you are living our move vicariously. I know it's the thing you hate most.
    I am perky and excited about our future. Polar opposites:)?

  17. Carolina, as long as we have a plan and can make some progress, I'm O.K. It's the "What the heck can we do now?" moments that let panic in the door.

  18. TechnoBabe,I need to lasso a few good clients to pay for all this:)

  19. It is flabbergasting that you could actually write this post. Jesus H. Murphy, what a go-round you're having.
    Then I read your response to Ms. Pliers. Can I have some of what you've got, please?

  20. Deborah, It all measures up against the "Is it life-threatening?" question. If the answer is "No!" then we can deal with it and turn it into something positive.